Tag: #cic

CIOs in Conversation: Dave Adamson

CIOs in Conversation: Dave Adamson

October 18, 2016 | By | Add a Comment

There’s two weeks left until this year’s much anticipated GTEC (Government and Technology Conference) and as such, we’re featuring a timely conversation with Dave Adamson, Assistant Deputy Minister at Shared Services Canada (SSC) of cloud brokering.

Dave Adamson Source: Linkedin

Dave Adamson
Source: Linkedin

The IM/IT Community Enablement team at the Treasury Board Secretariat sat down with Mr. Adamson as part of their Pathway to IM/IT Leadership Series. The series features interviews with Government of Canada CIOs and highlights their individual career paths, exploring the role of CIO on a personal level.

Mr. Adamson’s focus at SSC has been to enable science-based departments to benefit from internal and external cloud-based services in a consistent, economical and responsive manner.

He has also been the Deputy Chief Information Officer (CIO) for nearly three years at Treasury Board and prior to that, was the Chief Information Officer at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Overall, he has more than 30 years of experience in both the private and public sectors in systems implementation, large-scale project management and in operations management.

How long were you the Deputy CIO for the Government of Canada and how would you describe the role?

It was just short of two and a half years, including a period of about five months as Acting CIO. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the Deputy CIO role in terms of the breadth of files seen there or really understanding the unique role that Treasury Board Secretariat plays in government. I can honestly say I learned something new every day and it was a privilege to be part of such a remarkable team at TBS. CIOs are well-schooled in the IT and IM spaces but add to that access to information and privacy, service, DSO security and project oversight – these are areas that are very active, often in the news and were key learning challenges to me.

What led you to the role of Deputy CIO and what were you doing before?

I belonged to IT organizations long before I ever heard of the CIO title. At my first summer job as a computer operator at the Unemployment Insurance Commission, I got to see firsthand what the IT world looked like and how it was changing so rapidly, even then. While I was there, I met a very interesting man who’d just come from Japan as an expert consultant in Burroughs Online Systems and he turned out to be the key to my future career. Burroughs was a big manufacturer of mainframes in those days and he was testing something quite new: computer to computer communications.

I would hang around him as much as possible on the night shift as he did his magic and he would tell me a little bit about what he was doing and why. This gave me a great appetite for knowing more about computers and programming languages. I remember going home and telling my mom how interesting I thought my work was and she more or less said “well, that’s never going to go anywhere—computers are just a fad.” (laughs)

When I was going to university, I obtained a summer job doing COBOL programming for a consulting firm. At that time I had few apparent skills apart from being able to write FORTRAN and COBOL programs—the President took a big risk and gave me the time to learn and become more proficient while earning a salary. I can honestly say that my secret for programming success was making every possible mistake in the book and then learning from each mistake.

One of the important things that the President of the consulting firm did was to bring me to the Unemployment Insurance Office to watch the people who were applying for income support benefits and looking for work. He wanted me to see how the system worked – what the experience of being unemployed looked like, so that I could see (and feel) how we needed to develop and refine products that would help citizens get back on their feet again. In hindsight, that may have been one of the most important lessons in my career – being sure to relate whatever I was doing at the keyboard to the impact it would have on people’s lives. I believe this is a key way of thinking about business problems in an innovative way.

“When a career opportunity came along, I would always ask myself: why not me?”

I initially had no ambition to become CIO or do much more than write COBOL programs. When a career opportunity came along, I would always ask myself: why not me? And that’s been my guiding star for pretty well my whole career. I haven’t had long-term goals and I think that’s probably a good thing. Since then I have had a series of great opportunities in both public and private sectors, eventually becoming a CIO at Justice Canada and then CIO at Citizenship and Immigration – experiences which gave me the background to be considered for the Deputy CIO GC role.

I knew something about online systems, but not a lot. We worked hard for probably eight months [trying to get the complex requirements for the system right.] It had so many transactions to run through, when you think about it – the external world of immigration, people coming to Canada and, and security. Imagine how many people that system has touched, including the internal workers who [used it every day.]

Can you point to a specific project that was meaningful to you?

One of the most rewarding projects I ever participated in was the modernization of FOSS – the Field Operation Support System at Employment and Immigration Canada. It was the mid-80s and online systems had really come into their own. It was also the first time I managed a team. We were given this challenge of reinventing a previous version of FOSS into a completely different technology environment – online systems on a Burroughs mainframe – and we had about 6 months to do it.

We worked around the clock in a race to create the necessary functionality while at the same time make it run on a computer that had about the same power as a 386 computer! I got to be a part of the beginning of FOSS as an online database, and ironically I returned to CIC 25 years later, just as the plan to eliminate FOSS was being finalized as the new Global Case Management System (GCMS) had been implemented for CIC business. Very proud to say that my colleagues at CIC and CBSA pulled the plug on FOSS in late 2015 – interesting to note that it probably took more work to decommission this mission-critical system than it took to build it – something we’ll need to focus on as we re-think how we will support business needs in the future.

Speaking of databases and information management, how do you see IM fitting into the CIO’s role in the future?

I think we’re finally getting to a point where we can really begin to think about the value of information, and more importantly, the value we’re not getting from all the information that we gather as a government. There is an incredible shortfall in information benefits realization as our policies, legislation and current practices get in the way of better service, more “joined-up” government and being much more proactive than we are now.

“CIOs need to focus on what could be done with our information assets while protecting privacy. Open Government is one key piece…”

CIOs need to focus on what could be done with our information assets while protecting privacy. Open Government is one key piece – developing APIs that make the use of Open Data much easier are another.

You’ve witnessed a lot of technological change in your career. How should IT professionals be looking at this change in terms of their careers?

The temporal nature of technology is something that I often think about and I pay a lot of attention to this by reading, talking to external experts and colleagues who have new and interesting ideas. We are at a major tipping point in technology in government – many industries have already tipped and we can learn from them about what works and what doesn’t.

Cloud will enable GC business units to have incredibly fast access to state of the art solutions without the long lead times of development, test and implementation. Speed will be very different. IT workers need to “tip” towards the skills that go along with cloud: business analysis, and business integration for example, as we look beyond the GC into provincial and municipal needs that we will be able to meet on a single platform. Similarly data analytics, but much more focused on tactical solutions. For example, what is all the information you need to manage a workforce, rather than how to deploy a BI tool and manage the extract, transform and load (ETL) function.

So my advice is to take the time to pay close attention to what’s happening in the bigger world; reshape your skills and move to where the demand will be. I don’t think that’s the answer everyone is going to want to hear but I think we all need to be realistic about this.

Do any metaphors come to mind to describe the type of work you do?

A teacher. Not necessarily having all the answers, but being able to ask the right questions and take people on a journey of explo-ration and to instill and encourage curiosity.

The wrecking ball metaphor as well. We had a couple of people from New Zealand talk to us recently about how they currently have a strong focus on 17 to 18-year old children who seem to be headed the wrong way. They combine information about school grades, truancy rates, trouble with the law, family situations and other indicators and focus more resources on helping these high-risk kids – sometimes 10 or 20 times more resources – including intervening with parents to attempt to avoid problems down the road. In Canada, we don’t do that. We have walls around data in the name of privacy and we do not share information, even for a citizen’s benefit. The wrecking ball will break down the barriers that need rethinking, as appropriate, especially if CIOs and their teams can show the enormous unrealized value of our collective information holdings.

“So my best advice to IT workers is to talk business, leverage our information assets, leverage the best in class platforms, and then do it again.”

So my best advice to IT workers is to talk business, leverage our information assets, leverage the best in class platforms, and then do it again. Rethink how you will contribute to this virtuous cycle for our society, our science, our businesses and our staff.

As we speak, I am actually feeling envious of our new workers who will miss the challenge I spent most of my career on in making technology work, but instead will enjoy the challenge of using technologies to make the world better – there are so many possibilities. Dig in and spend some time observing what people really want from government and the many ways that might happen.

“Lastly, keep learning.”

Lastly, keep learning. I was extremely fortunate to have attended an MBA program when I was 50 years old. The learnings from the program were a very key ingredient to my later successes and have given me a thirst for learning, an incredible network and many new friendships that will last a lifetime. There are so many ways to learn nowadays and I recommend that you dedicate some time each day to expanding your horizons, building new contacts and better understanding the business of government.

Public Servants Welcome Syrian Refugees

Public Servants Welcome Syrian Refugees

December 15, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

Last week, the Clerk recognized the hard work that public servants have been doing so far to bring Syrian refugees to Canada:

Departments and agencies such as Citizenship, Heritage, Public Health, Border Services and the Armed Forces have been active online, sharing how they are contributing to the efforts and expressing pride in their public servants who are making a difference.

Here are some highlights:


Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada provide an update on the first flight:

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces detail how they’ll be involved:

Other Links

Read more about efforts to bring Syrian refugees to Canada by clicking here.

Government of Canada Celebrates the Best in IM/IT

Government of Canada Celebrates the Best in IM/IT

May 26, 2015 | By | Add a Comment

The best in IM/IT in the federal public service were recognized last week at a gala event hosted by the Association of Public Sector Information Professionals (DPI).

The Chief Information Officer for the Government of Canada, Corinne Charette, was on hand to emcee and present the awards:

The categories and winners were:

Excellence in Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP)

Recipient: ATIP Request and Pay Online, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Brenda Seely, Team Leader

This IM/IT solution provides a single, convenient location for Canadians to submit and pay for ATIP requests to more than 29 government organizations. The program makes it easier for Canadians to exercise their democratic right of access to records and enables departments to process requests in more streamlined, efficient and responsive manner. Teams from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Treasury Board and Shared Services collaborated to design a prototype, address legal and policy implications, and develop communication materials:

Honourable Mention: Director General Steering Committee on the Modernization Vision for the Access to Information and Privacy Training Program, Jean-Francois Luc and Michael Olsen, Team Leaders.

The Steering Committee was able to develop sustainable, innovative, and cost-effective ATIP training solutions.

About this award: The ATIP Award recognizes excellence in the administration of the access to information and privacy programs in the Government of Canada. This award also highlights and supports innovative, nimble processes that support the government’s ATIP program.

Excellence in Information Management Award

Recipient: IM Adventures, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Allain Lauzon, Team Leader

In response to the introduction of three new processes: data loss prevention, email transformation, and GCDOCS, the Adventures in IM Project developed strategies highlighting the benefits of using technology to properly manage information. They are now providing leadership to other government departments by co-chairing the GCDOCS Enterprise Project Management Office committee and by sharing information and other materials on GCPedia and GCConnex.

Honourable Mention: National Research Service, Department of Justice, Tracey Sampson, Team Leader. This new virtual research service brings together 10 separate research services and 15 legal research specialists from across Canada to form one national service, with improved employee access to service with an online portal accessible 24/7 and improved service accessibility.

About the award: This award recognizes an individual or group for outstanding achievement in business enablement through the application of sound information management principles, policies or processes.

Excellence in Information Technology

Recipient: Corporate Payment Management System (CPMS), Employment and Social Development Canada, Nada Noujaime, Team Leader

This new enterprise solution issued over $3 billion in program payments to 5.3 million Canadians in its first month alone and is on track to eventually manage all $110 billion of ESDC’s payment activities. The CPMS has succeeded in breaking down silos between different ESDC programs and has the potential to be used more widely across government. Honourable Mention: apps@DFATD Implementation Project, Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, Craig Pavia, Team Leader. This project allows DFATD employees to select which business applications they need for their office computer through a self-serve web portal and automatically installs them on a date convenient for the user. About this award: This award recognizes projects or initiatives of an individual or team that have contributed to the delivery of government programs and services through modern, secure, efficient and cost-effective IT-enabled processes and systems.

Excellence in Project Management

Recipient: My GCHR, Public Works and Government Services Canada, Marie-Eve Bernatchez and Chris White, Team Leaders The MyGCHR project is using technology to consolidate and connect back office systems. By replacing over 40 departmental HR systems, including some legacy systems up to 27 years old, MyGCHR has set the stage for significant savings in HR functions across government. To deliver MyGCHR, all parties communicated carefully, effectively and worked collaboratively toward this ambitious goal. Honourable Mention: Marine Security Operations Centre Project, National Defence, Hari Gupta, Team Leader. Hari has led this interdepartmental project for ten years in order to meet marine and national security challenges of the 21st century. About this award: This award recognizes excellence in managing, governing and overseeing of IM or IT enabled business projects in support of departments’ and agencies’ program objectives. 

Excellence in Security Award

Recipient: Heartbleed Action Plan Project, Canada Revenue Agency, Brigitte Hebert, Team Leader

The Canada Revenue Agency reacted quickly and accurately to the 2014 Heartbleed incident but realized security could still be improved. The Heartbleed Action Plan was already in place six months after the CRA’s Heartbleed post-mortem exercise. It will minimize the costs of any future security threats by both strengthening defences and by equipping employees with an improved incident management and response plan and better capabilities to detect threats.

Honourable Mention: Po Tea-Duncan, Cyber Security Division, Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat. Po Tea-Duncan’s commitment to Government of Canada cyber security, knowledge of IT security principles and their application, as well as her ability to lead and collaborate, have established her as a key leader in all matters pertaining to cyber security.

About this award: This award celebrates excellence and innovation in security management practices for the benefit of the department/agency and for contribution to improving the overall Government of Canada situational awareness and security posture.

CRA also took home the Association’s Lifetime Affiliate award:

GoC CIO Leadership Award

Recipient: Jennaeya McTavish, CIO for the Privy Council Office

About this award: This award allows the CIO of the Government of Canada to recognize overall excellence and outstanding contributions in IM or IT in the public service. No nomination is required for this award as it is personally selected by the CIO for the Government of Canada.

Other Links

For more information about the Association of Public Sector Information Professionals and this year’s awards gala, click here.

GoC Photoshop Fails

GoC Photoshop Fails

December 1, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Recently, a doctored photo made its way onto Canada Space Agency’s (CSA) Tumblr page that the Agency says was never supposed to be made public in the first place.

The photo, of the Canadarm2, appeared with a Canada wordmark within camera range. However, the Economist noticed the discrepancy that the logo is actually at the top, far from the fixed camera but is depicted upside-down in the NASA image:

Photo credit: The Economist

Where the logos really are:

The altered image inspired an op-ed in the Economist and even launched a parliamentary query. The questions asked in the query were:

With regard to the Canadian Space Agency:

(a) Why was the photograph of Canadarm 2, previously posted to the Agency’s Tumblr accounts at “http://canadian-space-agency.tumblr.com/post/76666430256/csa-astronaut-jeremy-hansen-canadarm2-looks“ and “http://agence-spatiale-canadienne.tumblr.com/post/76666430181/jeremy-hansen-asronaute-de-lasc-canadarm2“, modified to add the Canada wordmark;

(b) Who made these modifications to the photograph;

(c) Who requested or directed that the modifications be made;

(d) When was that request or direction issued;

(e) Why was the Tumblr posting removed;

(f) Who removed the Tumblr posting;

(g) Who requested or directed that the Tumblr posting be removed;

(h) Why was that request or direction issued?

Some in the science community thought the episode was being blown out of proportion:

Meanwhile, the Economist argued:

Perhaps the idea of slapping a fresh logo onto the foreground seemed a harmless move. But history is history. Falsifying it does a disservice to everyone.

The CSA responded to the media by saying that, “the use of the photo, which had been altered during the creation of a poster for an internal event, had been a mistake and wasn’t supposed to be used in any public way.”

But somehow the photo also appeared on an Economic Action Plan (EAP) page and a Citizenship and Immigration Canada page. The photo as it appeared on the EAP page:

Photo credit: CTV

The government has 45 days to respond to the questions asked in the parliamentary query.

Read the Economist’s full op-ed called, “Canada’s astronomical boasting – A country should not need to use doctored photos to get respect” here.

With additional files from here.

Information Commissioner Grades ATIP Performance of 24 Departments

Information Commissioner Grades ATIP Performance of 24 Departments

November 21, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

The Information Commissioner released her latest assessment, looking at the ATIP performance of 24 GoC institutions for the 2012-13 year. She saw that:

performance continues to be fragile, with some institutions performing well and others poorly, and that the performance of institutions is often volatile over a number of years.

Statistics reveal a large increase (27.7 percent) in the number of access requests institutions received in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12. The Commissioner’s complaints volume echoed this: it increased by 9 percent in 2012-13 and by 30 percent in 2013–2014.

The jump in access requests was largely due to the growing interest of members of the public in exercising their right to know.

Source of requests:

  • Public: 22,274 (40%);
  • Business: 21,242 (38.5%);
  • Media: 8,321 (15.1%);
  • Organization: 2,415 (4.4%); and
  • Academia: 983 (2%).

Here’s the breakdown by department:

 Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC)

  • received 38% more requests than the previous year;
  • despite this increase, AANDC improved its performance, especially in timeliness;
  • performed better than government-wide levels; and
  • number of complaints against AANDC decreased.

 Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA)

  • received 69% more requests;
  • second-ranked institution in terms of the number of requests received;
  • showed signs of improvement compared to the previous year period, despite an increased workload;
  • performed above government-wide levels; and
  • number of complaints against CBSA increased.

 Canada Post Corporation (CPC)

  • received 40% more requests;
  • showed signs of improvements in 2012-13 compared to previous year, both in terms of timeliness and disclosure of information;
  • performance continues to be below government-wide levels; and
  • received 8 ATIP complaints against Canada Post in that year.

 Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

  • an increase of 40% more requests;
  • ranked third in terms of requests received;
  • overall, performance below government-wide levels;
  • one of the institutions that processed the most pages – 1.2 million pages;
  • number of complaints increased; and
  • the most complained about institution.

 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)

  • decrease in requests received;
  • overall, performance was stronger than the government-wide average; and
  • complaints received against the CBC decreased.

 Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)

  • an increase of 40% more requests;
  • performance significantly lower than government-wide levels; and
  • an increase in the amount of complaints against the CFIA.

 Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)

  • received 25,010 requests, by far the largest number of requests of all institutions (representing 45% of all the requests);
  • CIC’s strong performance had a positive impact on the overall government-wide statistics; and
  • number of complaints went up significantly.

 Correctional Service Canada (CSC)

  • an increase of 57.6% more requests;
  • despite receiving more requests, CSC was able to close more requests within 30 days and perform better than government-wide statistics; and
  • complaints received against CSC decreased.

 Department of Justice Canada (JUS)

  • an increase of 3.6% requests;
  • overall performance was lower compared to previous years;
  • same can be said when it compared to government-wide levels; and
  • complaints decreased by more than half.

 Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC)

  • an increase of 29% more requests;
  • results declined in terms of timeliness;
  • performance in terms of disclosure of information was above the government-wide level; and
  • number of complaints against ESDC decreased.

 Environment Canada (EC)

  • an increase of 28.9% more requests;
  • ranked sixth in amount of requests received;
  • compared favourably to government-wide levels; and
  • increase in complaints received against EC.

 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)

  • received 49.5% more requests;
  • results under the government-wide levels; and
  • ATIP complaints against DFO decreased slightly.

 Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada (DFATD)

  • received 28.7% more requests than the previous year;
  • performance well below the government-wide levels;
  • DFATD noted it had experienced staffing challenges, which could explain in part the lower performance observed; and
  • complaints against DFATD increased.

Health Canada (HC)

  • received a similar amount of requests as the previous year;
  • performance was in general lower than previous year and below government-wide levels; and
  • complaints against HC decreased.

 Industry Canada (IC)

  • an increase of 50.6% more requests;
  • improved its results in terms of timeliness but performance was slightly lower in terms of
  • disclosure; and
  • similar amount of complaints received as previous year (only went up by 2).

 Library and Archives Canada (LAC)

  • saw an increase of 9.6% more requests;
  • in the top 10 institutions in terms of requests received;
  • receiving and processing more requests, as well as performing above government-wide results; and
  • only received 4 more ATIP complaints over previous year.

 National Defence (DND)

  • an increase of 24% more requests;
  • ranked fifth in terms of requests received;
  • similar performance as previous year; and
  • amount of complaints decreased slightly.

 Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)

  • saw an increase of 114.8% more requests;
  • generally improved its performance;
  • most requests came from the media; and
  • amount of ATIP complaints against NRCan increased significantly.

Privy Council Office (PCO)

  • saw an increase of 46% more requests;
  • performance was in general lower than previous year;
  • in general, results were also below those achieved government-wide; and
  • number of ATIP complaints against PCO increased.

 Public Safety Canada (PS)

  • an increase of 36% more requests;
  • overall performance was lower; and
  • number of complaints decreased by 1.

 Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC)

  • an increase of 10%;
  • achieved a better performance in terms of timeliness but its results in terms of disclosure went down slightly;
  • both indicators were, however, below government-wide levels; and
  • amount of complaints went down.

 Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

  • received 15% fewer requests;
  • overall performance clearly below government-wide results, especially in terms of timeliness; and
  • amount of information complaints against the RCMP increased significantly.

 Transport Canada (TC)

  • an increase of 272% requests;
  • this increase appeared to have been challenging for TC, as it performed below the results achieved government-wide; and
  • amount of complaints went up significantly.

 Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat (TBS)

  • saw a decrease of 15% requests received;
  • performance was in general slightly higher than previous year;
  • however, it performed below the results achieved government-wide performance; and
  • complaints against TBS only increased by one.

Read the Commissioner’s complete analysis for each individual department here.

GoC Employees Break GCWCC Record with 1 Day Blitz

GoC Employees Break GCWCC Record with 1 Day Blitz

November 14, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

A grand total of $636,213 has been raised by GoC employees in a one day blitz for the Government of Canada Workplace Charitable Campaign (GCWCC), setting a new record.

The total was announced at the GoC’s talent show for the GCWCC which capped off a very busy day as the blitz took place across 20 departments such as Shared Services, Canada Revenue Agency, Transport, CIC and PWGSC.


Clerk Congratulates GoC Winners at GTEC

Clerk Congratulates GoC Winners at GTEC

October 29, 2014 | By | Add a Comment

Clerk Janice Charette was on hand this week at the annual GTEC (government technology exhibition and conference) in Ottawa to congratulate GoC employees who were nominated for awards in the areas of:

  • Excellence in Public Service Delivery (external)
  • Transforming the Business of Government (internal)
  • Excellence in IM/IT Operations
  • Excellence in Collaboration
  • Maximizing the Talent of Our People
  • Leadership Award

The annual conference is where many GoC employees converge with each other, the private sector and other levels of government to check out what’s happening across the collaboration, innovation and technology landscape. Departments participate as well, through exhibits to showcase their innovation and good news stories.

The award winners were:

Excellence in Public Service Delivery (external)

Next Generation Open Data – data.gc.ca
Information Management & Open Government Division, Chief Information Officer Branch, Treasury Board Secretariat/ Statistics Canada

Transforming the Business of Government (internal)

Joint Space Support Project
Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management), Director General Information Management Project Delivery, Director Project Delivery Communications and Sense, Department of National Defence

Excellence in IM/IT Operations

The SIGNET Evolution Project
Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and Shared Services Canada

Excellence in Collaboration

Temporary Resident Biometrics Project
Operations Performance Management Branch, Citizenship and Immigration Canada/ Canada Border Services Agency/ Royal Canadian Mounted Police/ Shared Services Canada/ Public Works and Government Services Canada

Maximizing the Talent of Our People

Destination 2020 Team
Information Technology Branch & Strategy and Integration Branch, Canada Revenue Agency

Leadership Award

Richard Boulet
IT Director
Business and Enterprise Solutions Directorate
Information Technology Branch
Canada Revenue Agency

Senior leaders took to social media to congratulate their teams:

To see the winners from other levels of government, click here.